The Gentle Hum of Anxiety

Stacy and Dee

We have a sub for improv. I don’t want a sub. I want Jay. I can’t handle change! Dave is our teacher today. When we do scenes he’s standing and pacing and getting close to the stage to coach us. He’s super nice, too. Not that it stops him from being honest. Two people are on stage. Jackson and Matt. So you already know it’s going to be ridiculous. Well, you don’t, but I do. Jackson I have previously mentioned: 19 years old, Venice native, acts like a stoner but I don’t think he actually is, loud, friendly, pants hanging down to his knees, head of curly long hair. Matt is the most unintentionally funny person in the class. He’s tall, always has a smile on his face, laughs so loud at everything anyone does on stage, has trouble “staying in the scene” because he laughs at himself when he messes up, says the most random shit you could possibly imagine.

So they’re on stage together and naturally, aren’t making sense. Dave is laughing (it always feels good when the teacher laughs at you, even if it’s not for the right reasons). He’s actually cracking up. “What does that mean?? That doesn’t make any sense!” I’m getting a kick out of him. Next we have to come out with a big emotion and be a character. I’m on first…I walk out very chipper and happy and organizing flowers in vases. “What’s your emotion?” I try to be bigger. Then I guess I blacked out because I don’t remember the scene. I just remember what he said to me after. “I don’t really know you, but it seemed like you were just being a different version of yourself. Come in as a completely different character.” And it hits me. I have no idea how to be a character (I’m sure my mother would disagree, hardy-har-har). I watch the others and am impressed. I haven’t even realized that most of them come out as different characters all the time. I’m always just me.

In our next class with Jay, he has us go up individually for Expert Talker. I’ll use Stacy as an example. Quick backstory on Stacy: from the first day of class I felt like I knew her. Do I know you from somewhere? “We probably were at the same auditions or something.” No, definitely not, seeing that I rarely have auditions. And we left it at that. The more classes we had to together the more I felt like I really knew her before Groundlings. Stacy, are you sure I don’t know you from somewhere else? “Ummm, where do you live?” Venice. “Do you ever go to Santa Monica?” Yea, I work there. “Oh, OK, I used to work there. Do you know Brick+Mortar?” Ohhhh, the first time I went into Brick+Mortar with Mike and his intern friends, Stacy was our server! Not only that, they apparently always had Stacy as their server and called her Stace-Face. When I started working there Mike asked me about Stace-Face. No one named Stacy worked there, and when I asked people about her no one knew who I was talking about. I figured the interns just had her name wrong. But now I know that she did, in fact, work there, and tell everyone I’m in improv class with her, and now all of sudden everyone knows Stacy. So anyway, she is hilarious. Really good at improv, very funny, very big. I love doing scenes with her.

In Expert Talker, you are the expert, obviously, in some field and have to talk about a new discovery you’ve found. You introduce yourself and then go into a quick spiel about your new discovery. Then comes the hard part – Jay asks you questions. Like scientific crazy things that no one has any idea what they mean. But it doesn’t matter. You are the expert. Whatever you say is true in this scene. Stacy gets up on stage and Jay decides that she’s an expert in forensics. We all clap and Jay says his drawn out, “Yeaaaaaaaa.” And then she has to go. There’s no time to think. Stacy introduces herself and says something about when someone is murdered and the blood splatters, they can now figure out who the murderer was and how they committed the murder. From the blood splatter. Jay asks her things like, what formula they use and what elements are in the blood and how exactly they can tell who the murderer was. Somehow, Stacy ends up saying something about a gun shooting something into space, and barriers that keep it contained. It gets weird, but she does a good job with it. I don’t know how I’m going to do this. Oh, right, and on top of that you have to be a character. Please don’t call on me. Please don’t call on me. My prayers are answered. There are six of us left. “OK, next class you six can do your expert talkers. I’m relieved. Then anxious. What the hell am I going to do? I need to figure out how to be a character.

To be continued…

*Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

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